Origin: The origin of Starman was never related during the Golden Age. Presumably Starman was like many other millionaires in the comic books (among them Batman, Sandman, and Hawkman) who elected to fight crime. In Starman's case, his decision to battle the forces of evil as a mystery man may have been precipitated by his development of the gravity rod, a device which could draw upon the power of the stars. Obviously in the world of Golden Age National comic books there was a need for champions with such technological wonders. In Starman's first adventure he battled the mad scientist known as Dr. Doog, who planned to use a device to steal electricity from several large cities. Starman's greatest opponent, however, would be a supervillain known as The Mist. The Mist was a scientist who invented an invisio-solution, which could make anything coated with it invisible. When the U. S. government rejected The Mist's offer to sell it to them, he turned to crime--using the solution on himself! With villains such as The Mist and Dr. Doog around, someone had to invent a gravity rod and stop their evil schemes. That man was Ted Knight.
Powers: With the gravity rod, Starman was one of the more powerful superheroes during the Golden Age of DC Comics. Using the rod Starman could fly, fire energy blasts, generate energy fields, and perform several other miraculous feats. Starman kept a holster on his belt in which to place the gravity rod when not in use.
History:  In creating Starman, Jack Burnley must have drawn inspiration from the science fiction stories and comic strips of the day. Obviously, even today the idea of a hero who develops a rod which can draw upon cosmic energy is science fiction; however, the influence of science fiction can even be seen in Starman's costume. Perhaps more than any other superhero costume of the day, Starman's garb looks like something from a Flash Gordon comic strip or a  Captain Future pulp story.
Starman debuted in Adventure Comics #61, April 1941. He soon became one of National's more popular characters. No doubt part of this was due to the fact that he was one of the first superheroes to battle supervillains on a somewhat regular basis (in the early Golden Age many superheroes were still fighting gangsters and Nazis). Besides The Mist and Dr. Doog, Starman would battle other supervillains, often with such colourful names as The Light, Cuthbert Cain, Prince Ahmed, and The Sun and His Satellites. Starman proved so popular that when Hourman took a leave of absence from the Justice Society of America, Starman filled his place as a member.
Starman continued to be a popular character for much of the Golden Age. In fact, when he left the Justice Society of America it was not due to fading popularity, but corporate politics. In the mid-Forties a disagreement developed between Jack Liebowitz (co-owner of National Periodical Publications with Harry Donenfiled and All-American Comics with Max C. Gaines) and Max C. Gaines (co-owner of All-American Comics).  The disagreement would even affect the line-up of the JSA. In All-Star Comics #24, spring 1945, the Justice's Society's two members from National were replaced by two guest stars, Wildcat and Mr. Terrific. The next issue Starman and The Spectre were permanently replaced by two All-American characters--The Flash and Green Lantern.
It was perhaps just as well that Starman lost his membership in the Justice Society of America, as his own comic strip would not last much longer. In 1946 National Periodical Publications decided to move several characters from More Fun Comics (Superboy, Johnny Quick, Aquaman, and Green Arrow) to Adventure Comics. Naturally this meant that they would have to drop characters already featured in Adventure Comics to make room for the new arrivals. For that reason the Starman series, as well as the Sandman series, ended with Adventure Comics #102, March 1946.
Starman would return in the Silver Age in the second team up between the JSA and the JLA (Justice League of America issues 29, August 1964 and 30, September 1964). He was teamed up with The Black Canary in two issues of The Brave and the Bold (issues 61, September-October 1965, and 62, November-December 1965). Throughout the next few decades several attempts were made to revive the Starman name (the characters were never linked to Ted Knight in any way) and the original Starman continued to appear in JLA-JSA team ups and other comic books (such as All-Star Squadron). Finally, in 1994 the original Starman would provide the inspiration for James Robinson's Starman series, in which a retired Ted Knight passes the baton (or rod, as the case may be) onto his son, Jack, who carries on the Starman tradition.
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Cancelled Trade Cavalcade: Starman Omnibus Vol. 3, Legion Worlds, Justice Lea...
16 Apr 2013 at 7:59pm
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In all the hubbub these past few weeks about the Death of the Family, Throne of Atlantis, Grell Green Arrow and other collections, and then the new DC Villains Month and omnibus, there hasn't been time to recognize some significant cancellations in our midsts.
Not only did DC cancel the Legion Worlds and Starman Omnibus Vol. 3 trade paperbacks, this week they've also cancelled the first Justice League of America Chronicles collection.
Standard disclaimers apply that DC is a company and companies have to make money, and I don't necessarily expect DC to publish books that aren't going to net them a profit. Each of these cancellations is a shame, however; let's take a moment to see what we've lost.
Perhaps the most startling here is the cancellation of the paperback Starman Omnibus Vol. 3. In canceling this, DC must definitely be suggesting they no longer intend to continue paperback reprints of the original Starman Omnibus hardcovers, many of which are out of print.
Once upon a time I might have expected Starman, like Sandman or Watchmen, to remain perpetually in print at DC, essentially printing money. But any number of factors -- from writer James Robinson having left comic books for a while, to (wisely) the number of Starman spin-offs being few, to the entire saga's ejection from continuity with the New 52 -- seems to have dimmed the larger public's knowledge of Starman (even as the stories themselves remain a treat).
I'm reminded of a particularly daft blog post on the DC comicbooks site that not mis-characterized the plot of Starman, but treated it like a bygone, forgotten relic. Though the post seems silly, I fear it's probably not far from an accurate portrayal of where Starman stands now.
The problem is that readers who already bought the paperback Starman Omnibus Vols. 1 and 2 are now stuck with two paperbacks that will likely never see their companion volumes. Some part of me expects DC might still release Starman in true omnibus format (the whole series in just one or two hardcover volumes), but that still doesn't help anyone stuck with those two paperbacks.
The Pre-Order Dilemma
On one hand, I might suggest to anyone thinking of starting to collect a series, especially a paperback series with hardcover equivalents, to wait and see if all the books come out before you do so. Readers of the classic Justice League International collections faced a similar problem when DC released four hardcover volumes, then two paperback volumes, and then the series abruptly ended. At the same time, a catch-22 -- by not buying a collection series when it comes out, readers also risk that those same low sales will cause the very cancellation they're hoping to avoid.
So, I must say again, pre-order, pre-order, pre-order. More than likely what killed the Legion Worlds collection was lack of pre-orders; this collection of Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning Legion specials followed sequentially from the Legion Lost miniseries, which itself saw a hardcover release in 2011 but the paperback, too, was cancelled by DC.
Legion Worlds was one of those esoteric collections that probably wasn't going to appeal to a large audience, but that I and others had hoped to see. And I'm telling you, I think books like Green Arrow: Hunters Moon (Mike Grell) and Deadshot: Beginnings, and even Superman: Man of Steel Vol. 8, Superman: Dark Knight Over Metropolis, and Nightwing: Old Friends, are on equally shaky ground. All of these are collections of "old" (1980s) comic books and none of these are very much in continuity any more. Superman, Nightwing, and Green Arrow all have name recognition, but I'm shocked frankly that DC is even releasing the Deadshot collection after having cancelled the second collected volume of John Ostrander's Suicide Squad. If you want to see these books released, they need your support.
Justice League of America Chronicles was meant to be the start of a chronological reprint of the classic Justice League stories, in step with the Batman and Superman Chronicles books. I wonder if we can find a hint to Justice League's fate in the fact that DC has solicited a Superman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1 which itself collects the first four(!) Superman Chronicles volumes; perhaps Justice League Chronicles will be replaced with a Justice League of America: The Silver Age omnibus.
So, disappointed Starman fans out there? Someone other than me really looking forward to that Legion Worlds collection? Let me hear from you.
This post was syndicated from Collected Editions, the chronicles of a "wait-for-trade-er" -- the new breed of comic book book fans who forgo monthly "floppies" for trade paperbacks and collected editions -- reviews, commentaries, low price alerts, news, and the occasional scoop. Visit collectededitions.blogspot.com.
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